Despite a judge's ruling against him, a university professor insists his First Amendment rights are being violated if he is forced to state what he doesn’t believe.
Nicholas Meriwether, who teaches philosophy at Shawnee State University, sued the school after he was reprimanded and warned about “further corrective action” after he refused to call a transgender girl – a biological male – with a feminine title and feminine pronouns.
Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the professor, is filing an appeal on behalf of Meriwether after his lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Susan J. Dlott.
“We, of course, believe the magistrate got the law wrong,” ADF attorney Travis Barham says, “and we intend to explain why."
Meriwether’s legal battle began in January when he referred to the transgender female as “sir” during a classroom discussion, which angered the student who demanded he be recognized as female. When the professor refused, the student promised to get him fired and filed a complaint with the university.
Meriwether filed a lawsuit against the university after it concluded he had created a “hostile environment” for the student and threatened further action against him.
According to Barham, the professor risks suspension or even firing if he keeps refusing to bow to the student’s demands.
The professor’s refusal mirrors the plight of Jordan Peterson, the Canadian professor who became Enemy No. 1 of LGBT activists (see video below) when he publicly opposed a human rights law in his country that criminalized "misgendering" people, including his students.
Peterson has stated he might call students by their “preferred pronoun” but warned about Canada's Orwellian-like demand that punished people for refusing to do so. That is not outlawing so-called "hate speech" but also telling you, with the threat of punishment, what you must say, he argues.
"We keep reminding folks that this case is not just about a pronoun. It's about endorsing an ideology,” Barham warns. “The university's trying to force Dr. Meriwether to endorse and affirm a transgender way of looking at the world."